Deborah Mills has been carving wood professionally since 1991. She studied wood sculpture with Lorrie Goulet at the Art Students League of New York and, while living in Norway, trained with master woodcarver Erik Fridstrøm at the Viking Ships Museum in Oslo. In 1991, Mr. Fridstrøm hired her to assist him in carving a full scale replica of the twelve-foot-tall Ål Portal, an 800 year old stave church doorway in the collection of the Historical Museum in Oslo. (See the Liturgical Doorway page to view work-in-progress photos of all stages of the project.)
Deborah designs and carves every commission by hand, using chisels and mallet in a meticulous process that has altered little over millennia. She is adept at designing original patterns and themes to meet clients' needs, as well as in replicating the styles of many historical periods. She carves in a wide variety of woods, among them pine, cherry, walnut, oak, maple, mahogany, teak and basswood.
Deborah works with architects, designers, restoration experts, museums, cabinet makers and individuals on architectural restoration projects as well as new construction to create one-of-a-kind or limited series designs – from decorative relief panels to furniture to architectural elements like doors, doorways, mantelpieces, capitals, cornices, friezes, and other ornamental details. She also accepts commissions for original sculptures.
Her carving studio is in Long Island City, just across the East River from mid-town Manhattan. You are invited to join her there in small session woodcarving classes where she teaches the tools and techniques of traditional relief woodcarving. Deborah has previously taught workshops and classes at The American Folk Art Museum, Peters Valley Craft Center, 3rd Ward, Eastfield Village and The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art. She has demonstrated carving in many settings over the decades, among them the Medieval Festival at Fort Tryon, NY, The Norwegian-American museum in Decorah, IA, the Traditional Building Conferences in Boston, the Mechanics Library in NYC, and the Preservation Trades Network conferences.
In January 2011, she appeared on the Martha Stewart Show during her special segment on woodworking. In November 2013, she was selected by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to join a small group of designers and specialists to discuss the objects, themes, and possible installation approaches in advance of the Met’s reinstallation of the British galleries in the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Art. Memberships have included the Institute of Classical Architecture and Classical America; the Preservation Trades Network; the Furniture Society; the Association for Preservation Technology, Northeast Chapter; Historic New England; Furniture New York; and the Interstitial Arts Foundation.
Deborah Mills Woodcarving
43-32 22nd Street, Studio 204-1
Long Island City, New York 11101
Griffins on the workbench
Hand-carved in reclaimed wormy chestnut wood, in progress
Two of ten carved panels designed and carved by Deborah Mills for a custom cherry-wood bedstead in a Brooklyn renovation project.
Lamb of God Panel
A central panel in a shrine to St. Peregrine designed by Deborah for a local church. Cherry wood.
Deborah's adaptation of a Romanesque Norwegian motif.
Fjord Horse Bookends
Folk-art inspired sculptures. Quarter-sawn Norwegian oak.